Creativity – In the Studio With Artist Katherine Sandoz

Aug 18 2015

by Whitney Long

In this series on The Southern C, readers get to “meet” many  of the interesting and creative Southern entrepreneurs we meet online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits.  These individuals are the CEO’s, founders, creative directors, artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity.  Take a peek into their day to day life, find out what they are working on, discover the path that led them to this moment and gain insight into what motivates and inspires their work and lives.

The subjects and their niche may vary but many share the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions.  We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region.  According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious”, and this is one thing we are happy to spread.

Artist and  illustrator extraordinaire Katherine Sandoz is this week’s subject.  We met Katherine several years ago at the very first Southern C Summit.  Since that time,  she has been on-site at multiple Summits to capture the many faces of the Summit speakers and attendees in real time.  As one attendee, Mary Dell Harrington cleverly asked “Outside of a courthouse, who among us has ever witnessed someone sketching and painting participants in action?” 

 Katherine specializes in paint and fibers-based works and also creates installations from native and upcycled or repurposed materials.  Intrigued by the people and landscapes of Savannah and coastal Georgia, she paints daily in her studio in Vernonburg.  Her unique artistry is fueled by her romance with the act of painting and inspired by her surroundings and the rich history and tradition of the Deep South. By painting and drawing these subjects, she hopes to preserve, catalog and celebrate the terrain of daily life.  Sounds like a Southern creative!


Katherine in action at The Southern C Summit in Charleston. 

sandoz in gallery by sandoz

sandoz in gallery by sandoz

Describe your art and process:

I make landscapes, portraits, illustrations, fibers-based works and native installations. I use materials and media that best communicates the concept or themes I am employing in the piece or pieces. I layer research on the subject, formal aspects of art and design, anecdotal information given by the client to create several ways in which the viewer might engage with the piece.

sandoz wandzel collab watchmewip

kds, time-lapse capture of collaborative work with artist troy wandzel

Describe a typical day in the studio of Katherine Sandoz:

I start with correspondence, research and planning in the early early hours of the morning. After some kid wrangling, I head to the studio to begin work on current projects. My commercial and editorial clients have tight deadlines and I try to stay way in front of those dates. I work on exhibitions and commissions between these projects. If it’s a day with an intern, there may be demos, “how-to’s” or discussions about design, strategy and best business practice.

 I tend to take meetings at lunch that I prepare. With the studio in the barn behind my house, this makes for quick transitions between the studio and lunch or meetings. I stop work between 4 and 8ish, though I can draw or make notes when the children do homework. Often I go back to the studio after family hours to paint. I always have drawing or stitching with me in a project bag – when my family fishes (yes, in the kayak! also at baseball games, in the car, at the doctor’s office, almost anywhere).

sandoz_color fields_rosepeony_48s

rose peony, 48” x 48”, water-based media on panel, 2014-2015

What did you want to be when you grew up and how has your background influenced your work?

I had a long stint wanting to be a ballerina. After that, it did occur to me to be artist. A phone-in psychic told my mom on or around her 30th (we can’t quite remember), that I would become an artist but “not the kind I thought.” In undergraduate school, I studied French and International Relations. I spent time after college in advertising and loved it. The mix of concepts, strategies, formalism, people, pitching and – always – a little twist delighted me and still does.

Graduate studies at SCAD and teaching illustration at the college for almost ten years cemented my transition to working as a full time studio artist. I brought a lot of ingredients I use for today’s “stew”, but SCAD, as a test kitchen, is bar none – in faculty, staff, facilities and students. I learned and continue to learn a great deal about being and becoming from this community of which I have been a part for 20 years this month!

sandoz_studio photo by keith morgan

sandoz studio photo by Keith Morgan

Any “a-ha” moment that made you take the leap?

A lot of “a-ha”s happen not because I am thinking about “what does this mean” or “how does this work”. It seems to be a combination of a lot of work and/practice and then the brain downloading a lesson or information from my past, my mentors or teachers. So practice makes for, not perfect, but revelation. Teaching and mentoring gives a lot on that front as one must reckon with what one believes, how it works and how to communicate that effectively to others.


wessling pine island, 4’ x 8’, water-based media on panel, 2014-2015

Favorite biz tool, apps, artists or business books?


artists: Those that have a unique voice and use it everyday capture my imagination and hold my attention:

 asana (project management program): Project or task based, asana helps me with trafficking my projects, with making lists. It secondarily acts as an archive of what I have completed over time.

 feng shui (ancient organizational theory): A practice for creating balance and harmony using arrangements of elements, directions, colors, seasons and more. Black turtles, poison arrows, flying stars and other office and home-based adventure awaits! This system dovetails with the elements and principles of art so this is a challenging playground for me.

 instagram (@katherinesandoz): This is an easy way to catalog what I see and it also acts as a visual journal. I can find all my inspiration shots and show my work in one place. Additionally, I’m encouraged by all the beauty and hard work happening out in the world.

 Malcolm Gladwell: Anything written by this guy, I consider compulsory reading for anyone in any business. Gladwell gives good story and he turns all the stones over in search of answers. His writing suggests by example that we pursue robust discovery.

mother nature: She’s the best painter and teacher. And she’s a colorist whose expressions are complex and, apparently, limitless and shifting.

sandoz love in the time of tea olives

“love in the time of tea olives”, illustration for SALTED & STYLED (blog)

Where do you find inspiration? Any blogs, magazines or person?

 Yes! I don’t get creative block or “dry spells”. In my opinion, there is too little time and too much inspiration. The blogs I enjoy most feature great photographs and storytelling. A perennial favorite magazine is World of Interiors. Favorite people prove to be the ones that I’ve known for many years that have carved unique careers due to hard work, sheer conviction and enthusiasm for what they do. Nature remains my best and most consistent motivator.

sandoz mother nature inspires sandoz mixed media vessels

photo by kds, example of mother nature’s inspiration. mixed media vessels

The rare day off – what do you do to unwind?

I like to unwind on the Vernon River (just steps from my house) or on the water in the marshes of the low-country. I’ve been taking photographs of the sky, the land and small, beautiful (to me) moments since forever. I’m a haphazard gardener, but I’m crazy for the results and forlearning about flora.

Lucky for me, though, I find work to be very calming and uplifting even if not exactly “relaxing”.


spatterdock no. 1, 43” x 36”, water-based media on paper, 2015

Best business advice you ever received?

 Here’s some of the best I’ve heard or read and use (in no particular order)

  1. what you do is what you are
  2. if you can’t make it big, make it small
  3. 20 minutes is an opportunity
  4. use your chain of command if possible
  5. if you fail to plan, you plan to fail
  6. if it has loops, it needs a belt ( meaning pay attention, read the signs)
  7. does (insert project/activity) serve the mission statement?
  8. make “it” work for you

Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors.

This series – “In the Studio With” – offers her the perfect opportunity to do soFor more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below:

Deane Hebert

Katherine Frankstone

Caroline Reehl Boykin

Vaughn Dorrian

Emily Stroud

Jordan Jarvis Hughes

Heather Lancaster

Suzanne LeRoux

Sarah Schell Swinson

Julianne Taylor

Whitney Herndon

Barbara Cobb 

Andrea Gray Harper

Emily Bargeron

Katherine Mullins McDonald

Erin Gregory

Harrison Blackford

Amy Kinslow

Twine & Twig

Meredith Anne Sutton


Whitney Long View More Blog Posts from this Author

Whitney Long is co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit. Mama x 4, wife x 1. Entrepreneur, thinker, doer, writer, researcher, believer. Enjoys working alongside creative entrepreneurs to build community while supporting established and upcoming brands. Hobbies include travel, reading, bike rides and clever craft cocktails.

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